Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Science Changed My Life

Many years ago I recall sitting with Kristy in a restaurant in Cairns having her explain to me exactly what an atom was. I could not grasp the concept at all because I was so mind numbingly bored by her explanation that it was pretty much impossible for me to concentrate on what she was saying. I think she must have spent 20 minutes trying to explain to me before giving up.
I bet Kristy would never have guessed in a million years that I would become a somewhat self proclaimed science buff!!!!
Let me go back to how it all started.....
Before children I used to go to bed reading novels. I LOOOVED reading. Anything and everything. But due to the fact that I have almost zero self control, I would quite often stay up all night reading until I had finished the book. If I couldn't stay up all night to finish it, due to work commitments, I would read it over breakfast, in my lunch breaks, after work..... until it was finished.
Any parent will tell you that you simply can NOT live this lifestyle when you have children. The few times I have attempted to read books since my children have been born have always ended with the kids & Ben missing out on mummy time and eating baked beans in a filthy house with no clean clothes. So I have had to give away pastime :(
As I like to read before bed, I turned to trashy magazines that were easy to pick up and put down. I would read about 5 or 6 of them in a week. It cost a small fortune and my head was filled with so much rot that I couldn't think clearly and was lulled into a stupefied slumber every night. Ben hated them but I needed to read something before I could go to sleep.
Then one day Kristy and I were shopping in a new bookshop called "Borders" *sniff, sniff*. Kristy was looking at books in the Science section and pointed to one on the shelf called "Time" by Alexander Waugh. She said that she owned that particular book and was telling me a funny story from it. It sounded really interesting so I asked if I could borrow the book from her (to this day I have never given it back, if I like a book then I need to own a copy for reference purposes. In fact it is sitting here beside me as I was going to attempt to retell the funny story but gave up as it was too long to type). I fell in love from the first page!!! Rather than drifting off to sleep wondering why I couldn't look like Angelina Jolie or worrying about Britney's mental health I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion from trying to understand what was written on the pages. I had to have a dictionary beside me so that I could look up every second word. But I loved it.
After a few months of reading, I had finally finished it and had saved a FORTUNE from not having to buy trashy magazines. I then moved on to my next book 'A Short History of the World', followed by my FAVOURITE book of all time 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson. I now am the proud owner of hundreds of science books. Yesterday, I went into Borders at Chermside and bought 5 more (I am 'giving' them to Ben for his birthday, even though I secretly cannot wait to read them).
As I began to understand more and more about science my life changed in many surprising ways. Things that I had never been able to understand always had, in my mind, some kind of supernatural status or mystic power surrounding them. I believed in all kinds of supernatural things, which now I understand to be pseudoscience. And I understand how people get you to believe them too. Really smart people with a scientific background can make pretty much anyone, with limited scientific knowledge, believe anything. All you need to do is apply a few scientific words to some hocus pocus, throw in a conspiracy theory or two and waila!! You have a whole heap of people paying good money for a lot of rot.
As I understood more about the world my confidence grew. My whole life views changed.
I am going to state here that I am not having a go at Religion. I believe that Science explains the material world and that Religion deals with the the non-material world. Science and religion should never be mixed because they don't mix. They are like oil and water.
Since I have removed gossip magazines from my life I have stopped stressing about what I look because I am not constantly comparing myself to the women in the magazines. I have given up yoyo dieting and now just eat what I want and exercise when I want as opposed to always trying the 'cabbage soup diets' or 'drop a dress size by Friday' that are advocated by the magazines. (surprisingly when you aren't dieting and don't spend weeks deprived of a particular food, you don't gorge yourself stupid on that food when you do get an opportunity).
Through Evolutionary Psychology I have began to understand why I am the way I am and more importantly - why Ben is the way he is :-). I love EP, which is a rather speculative form of science, but fascinating nonetheless. I am also interested in biology and epi-genetics. Actually, I read anything. I have books on quantum physics (which I really struggle to understand), books on Earth Sciences.... lots of books on Evolutionary Biology, books on how the mind works.....
I am not advocating that everyone should race out and buy Science books. To be honest the more I learn, the more I want to know and the less I wish I knew. It is quite the double edged sword. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing!!! But for me, discovering I have a passion for science and understanding has given me a confidence in myself that I have never had before.
I had better get back to cooking Ben's bday cake, cleaning house, putting away 6 million loads of washing etc!!


  1. Well done B, I was waiting for this post. I am in awe of what you can take in. I think if I picked up one of those books my brain would turn to mush. But maybe I should just give it a try.....

  2. Wow, very impressive, I think I'll ditto Mel there, you can do all of the science reading for us ;-)

  3. You forgot to mention that the 'short history of everything' book was also mine.. and the only reason i got it back was because you realised it was inscribed 'to james merry christmas love mum and dad'. Let this be a lesson to everyone if you lend bianca a book make sure it has a sentimental inscription.

    I think your next blog should be 'what is an atom'

  4. Hi Bianca, I love your writing! You are very funny! We are starting out homeschooling at Redcliffe. I just read two good science books: "The Biology of Belief" and "Sceptics and True Believers". Sorry I can't remember the authors but they're good reads, especially the first one. ;0)

  5. Biology of Belief is by Bruce Lipton and an AMAZING book. A must read, as is Genie in our Genes by Dawson Church. I'd lend them to you but I'm a little partial to them.

  6. Sounds interesting. I will have to have a read. I will let you know what I think!!!!


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